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Is Gmail hot? Is Hotmail not? How email clients affect B2C Net Promoter survey response rates

Blog by Adam Dorrell
February 14, 2018

This post is a follow up to one of our most popular posts: Boost your Net Promoter Survey response to 60%+

Slide1Customer survey rockstars know a lot about how to maximise Net Promoter® survey response rates.  They understand the importance of mobile-optimised surveys. They send relevant, well- timed, and appropriately-worded emails.  And they set expectations with clients (and customers).

But another factor that has the potential to significantly affect survey responses, especially for B2C businesses that tend to send surveys to personal email accounts, is Email clients. 

Curious to see if there was a difference in how users of GmailHotmail, Ymail, and other email clients respond Net Promoter surveys, we analysed 400,000 records from Europe, North America, and Brazil across five CustomerGauge clients from Q1 of 2013.

And this is what we found.....

Microsoft is the most popular email client among B2C customers.....

Microsoft (Hotmail, Live, Outlook, etc) accounted for more than a quarter of all emails that were sent by our clients in Q1 of 2013. Google (Gmail, googlemail) came in a distant second at 14% and Yahoo! at just over 9%. Over 50% of emails sent went to five domains, namely Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, AOL, and GMX.

[caption id="attachment_5114" align="aligncenter" width="440"]Most popular email clients by send. Most popular email clients by send.[/caption]

...but Microsoft gets only 54% of the response rate that Google receives...

There is a distinct correlation between email client and Net Promoter survey response rates. While it may be the most popular email client for customers, Microsoft delivers only 54% of the response rate of Google and retains a significantly lower response rate than all other email clients except AOL.

You  will note that "All Others" has a similar response rate to Gmail - it appears that if people give you their work address it is because they are open to communicating.

[caption id="attachment_5227" align="aligncenter" width="550"]Slide1 Response rates by email domain (normalised to 100% All Others)[/caption]

...Microsoft's lower response rate is not because of a high bounce rate.

 A factor that may affect responses is bounce rates. But our findings show that although Microsoft accounts do indeed return a higher bounce rate than other domains, it is less than one percent higher than Google and less than half a percent higher than Yahoo and "Others."

[caption id="attachment_5178" align="aligncenter" width="495"]bounce rates Bounce rate by email domain[/caption]

So what does it all mean?

Our research shows:

  • If your business has a high level of Google and/or "Other" email contacts in your database, you will receive a higher response rate to your surveys.
  • If your contact list includes a lot of Microsoft and/or AOL addresses, you will receive a lower response.

It is not completely clear is exactly why this is the case. Anecdotal evidence says that Microsoft accounts tend to be checked less frequently, or used as secondary accounts, but we have to be hesitant to draw firm conclusions without the appropriate evidence.

Likewise, our research does not measure variations across different markets - so if you operate in a market that has a significantly different mix of email clients, our findings may not be relevant to your situation.

Nonetheless, if your database has a high percentage of Microsoft and/or AOL accounts, we suggest being particularly diligent in communicating to customers any benefits they may receive by being contactable at that address, and possibly asking for email confirmation to ensure that the customer checks that account.

[slideshare id=22188692&doc=customergaugeemailclientsandresponseratespresentation19april-130530060007-phpapp02]

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